Lilly blueprints plans for new R&D complex in China

Underscoring the rapid global shift of drug R&D into China, Eli Lilly ($LLY) today announced plans to set up a new research center in Shanghai that will initially hire up about 100 scientists and support staff to explore new therapies for diabetes and its twin co-morbidities--obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Shanghai native Bei Betty Zhang will head the new research center, which will open in the second half of next year and actively pursue therapies that "better control blood glucose levels without hypoglycemia, along with diabetes therapies that address co-morbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease and obesity," Lilly says in a release.

"Given key differences in the molecular basis of diabetes in Chinese and other Asian populations, a major focus at this center will be on discovering therapies that target critical aspects of the disease," says David Moller, vice president of endocrine and cardiovascular research and clinical investigation at Lilly.

Like other big pharma companies, Eli Lilly has been racing to establish a full set of research as well as commercial operations in China, a huge emerging market that is experiencing fast-rising rates of diseases associated with growing affluence. R&D work there can not only lead to new therapies for the Chinese market, but will also help these companies cut research costs for their global operations as they turn to less expensive science staffers.

- here's the Lilly release